NBA Odds & Picks for Pelicans vs. Heat: Miami Overvalued In Christmas Day Matchup (Dec. 25)

NBA Odds & Picks for Pelicans vs. Heat: Miami Overvalued In Christmas Day Matchup (Dec. 25) article feature image
Credit:

Layne Murdoch Jr./NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jimmy Butler #22 of the Miami Heat and Zion Williamson #1 of the New Orleans Pelicans.

  • The New Orleans Pelicans and Miami Heat open the NBA Christmas Day slate of game with a matinee matchup.
  • The Pelicans' core looks much improved after one season together, but can they compete with last season's NBA finalists?
  • Roberto Arguello previews the game, including his favorite plays for today's 12 p.m. ET action.

Pelicans vs. Heat Odds

Pelicans Odds +3.5 [BET NOW]
Heat Odds -3.5 [BET NOW]
Moneyline +130/-155 [BET NOW]
Over/Under 222 [BET NOW]
Time 12 p.m. ET
TV ESPN
Odds as of Friday 10:30 a.m. ET via DraftKings. Get up to a $1,000 sign-up bonus at DraftKings today or see more offers and reviews for the best online sportsbooks.

The New Orleans Pelicans face the Miami Heat to kick off the first of five Christmas day NBA games.

The Pelicans and Heat enter their second games of the season on opposite trajectories. The Pelicans missed the playoffs the past two seasons, but they impressed in the first game of the Stan Van Gundy era. The Heat, fresh off an NBA Finals appearance, were upset by the Magic on opening and look to bounce back.

Although these teams are each far from their final form, there is enough value for small plays in this Christmas matinee and even some parlays.

New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans hired Van Gundy to improve their defense, which finished 19th in efficiency (111.9) last year. After one game, the Pelicans are already showing improvement as they allowed 94.3 points per 100 possessions in their win over the Raptors.

New additions Steven Adams and Eric Bledsoe made an immediate impact defensively along with improvement from Brandon Ingram who finished with three steals and a game-high +17 differential. He has always been a prodigious scoring talent, but he is become a more complete player with each passing game.

Zion Williamson also looks to take a step forward this season without the minutes restrictions and injuries that limited him last season. The key for him will be staying out of foul trouble.

When he is on the court with Adams, the Pelicans might have the biggest and strongest frontcourt tandem in the NBA. They are dominant on the glass and create space for the elite shooters on the outside like Ingram and JJ Redick. Williamson also looked impressive in the preseason as he led all players with a 28.0 PER.

Lonzo Ball, who shot a career-best 37.5% on 3-pointers last season, was a beneficiary of the spacing in game one as he shot 4-for-8 from behind the arc. Bledsoe, whom the Heat dared to shoot 3s in their second-round series against the Bucks in the bubble, also benefited from quality looks as he shot 4-8 from deep as well.

If Ball and Bledsoe, along with Josh Hart, can step up their shooting while playing quality defense like they did in Game 1, this Pelicans team can not only beat the Heat, but also compete against the best in the Western Conference.

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Miami Heat

The Heat looked rusty in their opening game. They beat themselves with sloppy offense that led to 22 turnovers while allowing defensive miscommunications that led to easy buckets for the Magic.

After coming off the bench in 47 of his 55 regular season games as a rookie, Tyler Herro replaced Kendrick Nunn as the starter at point guard with four assists and four turnovers.

I expect the Heat to improve as Herro gets more accustomed to this role as the season continues, but there will be some growing pains along the way. Herro’s playmaking has improved significantly from this time last year, but he is still a scorer first — the passing will come after he gets in rhythm.

The Heat also have a propensity to allow opposing shooting guards to go wild against them. The Magic continued this trend as Evan Fournier and Terrence Ross combined to shoot 6-for-11 from behind the arc and scored 44 total points.

The Heat signed defensive-minded Avery Bradley this offseason, but he surprisingly didn’t play against the Magic. The Heat also have other options off the bench such as Miles Leonard and KZ Okpala who didn’t see action against the Magic, but they could provide value on defense against Williamson and Adams.

While the Heat didn’t look in sync, their best players showed reasons for optimism. Bam Adebayo’s jumper looked improved and smooth as he led the team with 25 points. Jimmy Butler added 19 points while tallying an NBA-leading seven(!) steals – no one else in the association had more than four after one game.

Pelicans-Heat Pick

While it’s still early in the season, and I don’t recommend betting large sums yet, I like the value on the Pelicans against the Heat. Van Gundy is 21-14 straight up when coaching against the Heat, the first of the four NBA teams he has coached.

He understands the way the Heat want to play and that has some value. His impact on the Pelicans’ defense from day one was impressive, and the Pelicans have length and athleticism to continue this success.

The Pelicans will present a tough matchup for the Heat in the frontcourt with Adams and Williamson. They should have an advantage on the boards whether the Heat play small or big with Adebayo at the four or five.

The Heat also have an uphill battle to improve their perimeter defense after the lackluster showing against the Magic. I expect the Heat to be focused on that end, but I love the versatility of this Pelicans offense with a myriad of weapons.

Since it’s Christmas, I’m giving out multiple picks. Unders on Christmas day have gone 41-24-1 (63%) per Bet Labs since 2005, and I like the value of under 224.5 here down to 220.


Take the Pelicans down to +4 or the moneyline down to +140 and the Under 224.5 down to 220. I like the value of Pelicans spread and under 224.5 parlayed at +245 down to +200.

Pick: Pelicans +4 | Pelicans ML +143 | under 224.5 | Parlay spread/total +245

[Bet the Pelicans at DraftKings and get a $1,000 sign-up bonus.]

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